Dec. 20, 2012
COLLEGE PARK, MD. - With the season officially in the books with the completion of the College Cup it's time to look at the 2012 University of Maryland women's soccer season and reflect on some of the memories and milestones that the Terrapins made and reached.
When this group arrived in College Park, the Terrapin program had not made a trip to the NCAA tournament since 2004. Since their arrival, Maryland has made the tournament field in each of the last four seasons, including two trips to the Sweet 16 and a No. 1 seed in 2010.
When this group came to Maryland, the Terps had not appeared in the ACC tournament since 2005. Since 2009, the Terrapins have earned their way into the eight-team field all four years and made it to the championship game in 2010 and 2012.
The four-year record of the class of 2012 is a staggering 58-21-11. The 58 wins is the second-most ever for a four-year class at Maryland, trailing only the 1998 class, which registered 60 wins.
However, the 2012 class does go down as the senior class with the highest winning percentage of any four-year class in school history with a .706 winning percentage, which is the first class ever with a winning percentage above 68%. The previous best mark was the 1996 senior class with .672.
This senior class isn't just leaving behind a legacy of tournament bids, championship appearances and impressive win totals. It has established a standard of success that all other classes to follow will be expected to meet and hopefully exceed.
Based on a 14-7-2 record in 2012 and earning a spot in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the Terrapins finished the season with a No. 16 ranking in the final NSCAA poll.
This marks the fourth consecutive season Maryland has finished ranked in the final NSCAA poll. In 2009 and 2011, both Sweet 16 seasons, the Terps finished the year at No. 11. Following the 2010 season, with an 18-2-3 overall record, Maryland ranked No. 10 in the final poll.
From the opening game when senior Hayley Brock each found the back of the net, Maryland's starting front line was a dynamic duo.
Brock finished as the team's leading goal scorer with 13 tallies on the season, while Kaplan was just one behind with 12. The pair also tied for the team lead with six assists on the season.
Maryland's duo was one of just six pairs of scorers in Division I women's soccer to have at least 12 goals apiece.
Brock and Kaplan's production marked the first time since 1998 a pair of Terrapins finished the season with 30 or more points and 12 or more goals each.
During the 2012 season, the Terrapins played 14 true or redshirt freshmen. That might not seem too significant until noticing that Maryland's freshmen played more than 50% of the team's on-field minutes.
But the Terp freshmen didn't just play - they contributed. Eight freshmen - Ashley Spivey, Shannon Collins, Riley Barger, Gabby Galanti, Sarah Molina, Rachelle Beanlands, Erika Nelson and Aubrey Baker - started at least one game for the Terps this season and Spivey and Collins were the only Terps to start every game.
Taking the Reins
Jonathan Morgan was an assistant for five seasons in College Park before being hired as the program's eighth head coach on Feb. 10.
One of the most appealing parts of Morgan's promotion to the big chair was him having his finger on the pulse of this program in every way. He had a hand in recruiting every player on the Terrapin roster and knew each one's strengths and weaknesses from the get-go.
That fact allowed him to make some moves that ultimately benefitted this team. At the start of the season Hubka was at forward, Kaplan and Wagner were playing wide midfield and Spivey was playing holding center mid (in place of Hodak, who wasn't ready for full-time action at the start of the season). Eventually, Kaplan was moved up top to pair with Brock (which worked out pretty well - read the Dynamic Duo part of this review), Hubka was moved back to attacking center mid and Spivey was moved to left wide midfield, but it was the moves of Wagner and Hodak that showed Morgan's understanding of his individual players and his team.
Hodak played some at her usual holding center midfield spot in the season opener at Navy, but was inserted early on in the Villanova game at center back. That might not seem odd, but considering the fact that Hodak had never even practiced at center back, let alone played in an actual game, the move was a bold stroke. But it paid off. Hodak would go on to start the next 21 games at center back and would have to take on the leadership role for the defense after the Alabama game, when the team's lone returning back-line starter, Megan Gibbons, was lost for the season with an ACL injury. Not only was Hodak a rock defensively, she also chipped in on the attack with four assists to her credit.
The move of Hodak to center back created a hole at the holding center mid position. Spivey started the first two games there, but her creativity as a goal-scorer made her a natural at wide midfield. The solution proved to be Wagner, who showed she was up to the task with her combination of skill, toughness and soccer IQ. The move limited Wagner's offensive chances somewhat, but she still proved to be dangerous on set pieces, scoring four goals and adding four assists.
The result for Morgan was a squad that finished with a 14 wins, which is the second-best mark in program history for a first-year coach, trailing only Alan Kirkup's first season in 1996 when the Terps finished with a program-best 19 wins.
Tar Heel Takedown
On Sept. 13 the Terps did something that no other team in the history of women's college soccer has done - defeat North Carolina three times in three consecutive seasons.
Santa Clara had previously beaten the Tar Heels in three straight meetings, but those three wins came in 1999, 2000 and 2002.
The historic victory was even more impressive considering the fact that the Terps were at their lowest point of the season, coming off of a 1-0 loss at home to Fordham.
The win over the Tar Heels also gave Maryland something that no other team in the nation can claim - a result over the last two NCAA champions. Last season Maryland's 0-0 tie vs. Stanford was the only blemish on the Cardinal's championship season. This season, UNC put things together down the stretch and rattled off six-straight wins in November and December to take home the title.
The standard has been set. Now it's up to the current and future Terps to meet that standard, exceed it and eventually reestablish a newer, higher standard.
Maryland returns three of its top five scorers for the 2013 season, including Brock and Spivey, who are as dynamic as goal-scorers as any in the nation.
The midfield loses Hubak and Wagner, but Barger showed she is more than capable of filling in for Hubka as she did during Hubka's late-season injury absence. Molina could be a candidate to fill in for Wagner, but could also compete for Hodak's center back spot. Another rising sophomore, Erika Joab, also saw some time at holding center mid this past season.
Hodak is the lone loss on the back line, but Gibbons is expected to get a fifth year and will be a welcome addition to a solid group that saw Collins, Nelson and sophomore Shade Pratt grow throughout the season.
The Terps will also get a boost from the returns of a couple of student-athletes who missed the entire 2012 season due to injury. Sophomore Alex Doody, who had a solid freshman season with three goals in limited time, will compete at attacking center mid, while sophomore Sarah Fichtner, who transferred in from Rutgers this fall, can play either center back or holding center mid.
The goalkeeper spot looks to be in good hands with redshirt freshman Rachelle Beanlands finishing up a solid first season.
The 2013 season will be the final one for the Terps in the Atlantic Coast Conference as the University announced in November that it will join the Big Ten on July 1, 2014. Maryland has the talent, experience and confidence to make its last ACC season a truly memorable one, which all Terp fans can hope ends with a celebration at the College Cup in Cary, N.C., on Dec. 8.